Selections for May 2017

Two Sides to Every Story. . .


This is beautiful, based on your perspective.  The Wine Spectator’s perspective?  #52 on their annual ‘Top 100’ List, and a 91 point rating.  Not bad for an under $20 Spanish wine, right?

But is it what you expect from Rioja? 

Bright, lively, fun, juicy, vigorous, evocative of fresh cherries, herbs, campfire smoke, baking spices, orange slices, and raspberries . . . there’s a lot going on here and it all happens on a vibrant, tangy, youthful frame.  This is certainly NOT traditional nor is it ageworthy, necessarily.  La Montesa is a celebration of fruit and spice, with a Carpe Diem attitude of carelessness.

91 points?  In the end that’s up to you, but we have loved this wine for years based on its whimsical, gulpable way.  It is a great warm weather red, providing lift to the weight of bbq and otherwise. 

By the way, while much of the vast Rioja region is devoted to Spain’s noble Tempranillo grape, this Rioja uses just 15% of that typical variety.  Palacios Remondo is situated in warmer Rioja Baja where more democratic Garnacha (Grenache) prevails.  This wine is 85% Garnacha, which explains its endearing charm.   

Rioja’s traditional flipside

2011 DEÓBRIGA ‘Selección Familiar’ – Rioja, Spain

THIS is the other kind of Rioja.  The traditional.  The age-able.  In fact, I’d say this 6-year-old wine isn’t yet in its prime.  Certainly, it’s enjoyable now but this more classic style has a propensity for mellowing over a very long period.  Drink some now, buy some for later, and buy some more for MUCH later!

Deóbriga is the work of a smaller winery and “Selección Familiar” is its name for an unofficial, proprietary category in their line of bottlings.  Apparently it comes from the barrels deemed too good for the winery’s “Reserva” but also doesn’t meet the 12-month barrel aging requirement for that classification.  While Reservas and Gran Reservas often spend two or three years in oak, this wine saw just 8 months in 80% French and 20% American barrels.  Another point of interest:  “Selección Familiar” is comprised of 80% Tempranillo and 20% of the native Graciano.

The shorter time in barrel means this wine saw less than the usual amount of air, as transmitted through the semi-porous staves – which asks something of you:  Give it some more.  Whether you drink this now or later, the wound-up beauty will unfold with a bit of decanting.  The wine’s other request:  Roasted lamb shank, if you’re up for the project!